Question to the Minister for Social Protection (Ms. Joan Burton,TD)
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will introduce the community visitors programme in 2015, in partnership with Inclusion Ireland and other stakeholders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
For WRITTEN ANSWER on Wednesday, 14 January 2015.
The Citizens Information Board (CIB) is the statutory body responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice (including money and budgeting advice) and advocacy services to all citizens on a wide range of public and social services.
One of the functions of the CIB, as defined in the Comhairle Act 2000 and the Citizens Information Act 2007, is to directly provide or support the provision of advocacy services to individuals, and in particular to assist those with a disability to identify and understand their needs and their options and to secure their entitlements to social services.
The Citizens Information Board delivers on its remit through the provision of advocacy services for the public in general, and for people with disabilities in particular. This process has involved building advocacy capacity and skills within Citizens Information Services to deliver advocacy to all citizens, including those with a disability who are able to access mainstream services.
In 2009, an evaluation report on the community and voluntary sector advocacy programme set out a proposed structure for the roll out of advocacy services, and recommended the establishment of a single service to provide improved advocacy services to people who need them, regardless of location, disability type or level of vulnerability. Following on from this report, the National Advocacy Service was established under the Citizens Information Board in January 2011, to provide an independent, confidential, and free representative advocacy service to vulnerable people with disabilities who cannot self-advocate, while supporting others to use mainstream services.
The aim of the National Advocacy Service is to ensure that people with disabilities have a voice and that their rights are safeguarded, particularly those who cannot self-advocate or who find themselves isolated in the community or living in residential institutions.
More recently, the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities has been restructured to form one National Service under a National Advocacy Service Board. The National Advocacy Service, which has its national office in Dublin, comprises 45 staff providing services through its four regions.
Any proposed legislative action or introduction of a community visitors programme would require careful consideration in the context of the overall approach to the provision of the most suitable, timely and appropriate supports and services that best meets the needs of people with disabilities, across the range of organisations involved in this important work.
The CIB funded National Advocacy Service receives €3.8 million annually.